Alabama Department of Education

The Alabama State Department of Education continues their community engagement tour across Alabama today with a stop in Huntsville.

The tour is focused on talking with community members about the Every Student Succeeds Act that was approved by Congress in December of last year.

The plan, known as ESSA, replaces No Child Left Behind. It provides Alabama schools with more flexibility when innovating and creating new plans for education.

Alabama is joining eleven other states today to ask a federal judge to block the implementation of a federal directive on bathroom rights for transgender students in public schools.

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Fort Worth, Texas is considering a preliminary injunction that would keep the new directive from being enforced. That means schools across the country wouldn’t have to worry about complying for now.

TEMPO data
NASA

NASA is inviting scientists to use data from a satellite set for launch around 2020.

The program is called Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution, or TEMPO. It’s designed to look for pollution in the upper atmosphere. NASA is teaming with the University of Alabama in Huntsville for a workshop on how scientists can get data from the TEMPO satellite for their research.

Professor Michael Newchurch came up with the idea of having the application workshop at the university. He says he only expected twenty to thirty people to attend.

Alabama's Marine Resources Division and the Dauphin Island Sea Lab are investigating after vacationers found dozens of dead sharks along the shore of Mobile Bay.

Media outlets report the sharks, mostly identified as bull sharks, were discovered Saturday morning. Sabrina Rios, who was on vacation with her family, reported finding a net with about 40 sharks inside.

The Alabama Department of Education has restored funding to a reading program that educators feared was in danger at many public schools.

Earlier this week, superintendents were scrambling for funding to replace a $7.5 million cut to the Alabama Reading Initiative, which allows for reading coaches in public schools. The cuts were performance-based, and many schools with above-average reading scores were in danger of cutting out their Reading Initiative programs entirely.

hubbard trial
Brynn Anderson / AP

A jury has been chosen, and Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s ethics trial will begin next week.

Hubbard is facing nearly two dozen felony ethics charges accusing him of using his position as Speaker and past position as chairman of Alabama’s Republican Party for personal gain for himself and his businesses. Each count is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Hubbard has pleaded not guilty and maintains he didn’t do anything illegal.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange is criticizing the Obama administration's directive to let transgender students in public schools use bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identity.

The U.S. Departments of Education and Justice released a joint statement Friday saying both federal agencies plan to ensure all students, including transgender students, can enjoy a safe and discrimination-free environment. Both federal agencies plan to treat students' gender identity as the students' sex for purposes of enforcing Title IX regulations.

Alabama State Capitol
Wikimedia

State lawmakers may vote today on a measure that would block cities from setting local minimum wages.

Last week, the Birmingham City Council voted to expedite the effective date of a planned minimum wage increase to March 1. Republican state Rep. David Faulkner of Mountain Brook filed a bill that would mandate uniform minimum wages in Alabama and void any local wage ordinances.

Alabama has no state minimum wage and uses the federal wage floor of $7.25.

Advocates for low-income workers say local governments are better suited to handle local wage regulations.

If any Alabamians missed out on signing up for coverage associated with the Affordable Care Act, there is still time to do so. APR’s MacKenzie Bates explains.

HealthCare.gov says it will be extending Tuesday’s deadline to sign up for health insurance to tonight. The reason is high demand among health care consumers who wanted coverage starting January 1. The new cutoff point is tonight at midnight PST.

Officials say the surge in consumer demand caused some applicants to wait at the call center or while trying to log into HealthCare.gov.

Tommy Bice
timesdaily.com

Alabama Department of Education Superintendent Tommy Bice says he will propose raising teacher salaries over the next three years.

Bice said yesterday his department would recommend raising teachers' salaries 5 percent in fiscal year 2017, which begins next October.

The state government will have the final word on public school spending next year. According to the department, the raise would cost $160 million.

Bice says he will seek additional raises in 2018 and 2019, with the goal of bringing teacher salaries in line with inflation.

Alabama State House
Jay Williams / Flickr

Alabama’s lawmakers are back in Montgomery for a special session to work on the budget.

Governor Robert Bentley is seeking a 25-cent-per-pack cigarette tax increase. He also wants to raise the business privilege tax on larger businesses while giving smaller ones a tax cut. The governor has also suggested ending the ability of taxpayers to claim a state income tax deduction when they pay their federal Social Security taxes.

Tuscaloosa Representative Bill Poole says he is not optimistic the legislature will draft a budget in this special session.

Baldwin County Probate Judge Tim Russell
Matt Teague / Los Angeles Times

Probate judges from across Alabama are meeting in Tuscaloosa today. Alabama Public Radio’s Stan Ingold reports they’ll be talking about updates to marriage laws.

Alabama education professionals are attending this week’s MEGA Conference in Mobile.

Over 2000 individuals preregistered for the event including teachers, administrators, and school nurses. The conference provides professional learning opportunities to help educators enhance their job skills. It's also a chance to build skills to work with students in the classroom. The conference runs until Friday at noon.

Voters in Birmingham overwhelmingly approved a tax increase yesterday that will go toward Birmingham’s City Schools.

According to Birmingham Board of Education President Randall Woodfin, the extra tax will cost the average homeowner an additional $1.83 a month.

Money from the tax increase will be used to put a preschool classroom in every Birmingham city elementary school. Some schools that already have preschool programs are expected to expand them. The money will also go toward funding music and other fine arts programs as well as foreign language education.

istockphoto

Six schools, including four from Mobile County, have been recognized in Montgomery for having high-achieving students that come mostly from low-income homes.

The governor and state education officials held a ceremony Wednesday to honor six Alabama Torchbearer schools selected by the state Department of Education. The schools have at least 80 percent of their students receiving free or reduced-price lunches and score among the top 20 percent in state educational assessments.

istockphoto

State education officials say they're reviewing public school sex education policies after a state law banning consensual anal and oral sex was ruled unconstitutional in June.

Alabama Department of Education Spokesman Michael Sibley tells Al.com because of the court's ruling, sexual education curriculum emphasizing that gay sex is illegal in Alabama is legally incorrect.

Ben+Sam / Flickr

Several Alabama school systems will be offering breakfast and lunch free to all students when classes resume in August.

The state Department of Education says school systems qualifying for the free meals under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act have poverty levels that are 40 percent and higher.

Systems that have all or nearly all of their schools participating in the program are Montgomery County, Barbour County, Clarke County, Lowndes County, Wilcox County, Selma, Tarrant, Midfield, Chickasaw, Albertville, Dallas County, Macon County, Linden, Bessemer and Anniston.

popofatticus / Flickr

The Alabama Department of Education is using an online survey to measure Alabamians' opinions about the quality of the career and technical education being offered in Alabama's public schools.

The department says responses to the survey will help it plan for the future and better serve students, parents and communities.

The web address for the survey is: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HFPYY27

The deadline for taking the survey is Feb. 21. The department says the results will be available on its website (http://www.aldes.edu ) starting in March.

kootation.com

The Alabama Department of Education has announced the new list of failing public schools, where students can transfer to other non-failing public schools or to private schools.

The department says five schools were added to the new list. They are Barbour County Intermediate School, Lafayette High School, Abbeville High School, Jeremiah A. Denton Middle School in Mobile County, and Bessemer High School.

kootation.com

Six Montgomery Public Schools educators accused of participating in a district-wide grade changing scheme are facing state trials.

The Montgomery Advertiser reports the district's former assistant superintendent, two principals, an assistant principal and two teachers are expected to appear before an administrative law judge in December.

The newspaper reports the educators could lose their teaching certificates.

Mobile County Public Schools

New figures released by the Alabama Department of Education show Mobile County schools Superintendent Martha Peek is the highest-paid in the state.

AL.com reports that Peek earns an annual salary of $204,000 overseeing the largest school system in Alabama with an enrollment of 59,000 students.

Second on the list is Birmingham City Schools' Craig Witherspoon, who earns $202,155 overseeing a system with 24,629 students.

istockphoto

More than two dozen Alabama legislators have taken state officials up on an invitation to visit schools in their districts and talk with students, teachers and school administrators.

Legislators said they were impressed with the teachers and students they met during the visits Tuesday. But several legislators said they were disappointed to find overcrowded classrooms and not enough money for supplies.

Republican Rep. Greg Wren of Montgomery says he's disappointed teachers have to spend so much time filling out paperwork when they could be teaching students.

The state Department of Education is planning to unveil its new way to address barriers to learning and teaching and to re-engage disconnected students.

   Department officials will join other educators Friday in Montgomery to present the Comprehensive System of Learning Supports design documents.

   The director of the department's Office of Learning Support, Linda Felton-Smith, says the design moves student supports away from reacting to problems and moves them toward a system emphasizing prevention and early intervention.

Facebook.com/Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program

Advocates for the disabled say they're concerned about the future of special education programs since state officials plan to inspect them less often.

The Anniston Star (http://bit.ly/13QW7Qp ) reported Sunday that the state Department of Education will transition from inspecting the programs once every three years to once every four years beginning this school year.

Microsoft Images

Alabama education officials say more than a third of college freshman from the state needed remedial coursework last fall.

Deputy Superintendent of Education, Sherrill Parris, says the amount of students who graduated high school and needed remedial coursework factored into Plan 2020 — a statewide initiative to improve education over the next seven years.

Parris and executive director of the Alabama Commission on Higher Education, Gregory Fitch, say standards requiring students to enroll in remedial courses varies between the state's public colleges and universities.

A three-member investigative team appointed by the state Department of Education is looking into allegations of mass grade changes at three public high schools in Montgomery. School Superintendent Barbara Thompson sought the department's help earlier this month after the Montgomery Advertiser reported that teachers who worked in Robert E. Lee, Jeff Davis and Sidney Lanier high schools said they witnessed or participated in the improper changing of hundreds of grades.

longislandwins / Flickr

A lawsuit has been filed accusing the Alabama Department of Education of refusing to release school data showing the impact of Alabama's law cracking down on illegal immigrants has had on Hispanic students. The Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery filed the lawsuit, which contends education officials have declined to release data on student enrollment before and after the immigration law was enacted. The lawsuit says the SPLC has requested a copy of information that education officials have sent to the U.S. Justice Department.

State Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice says his department will investigate allegations of widespread grade changing in the Montgomery County public school system. Bice said on Friday that Montgomery Superintendent Barbara Thompson sought the department's help, and the investigation is beginning immediately. Teachers who worked in Robert E. Lee, Jeff Davis and Sidney Lanier high schools in Montgomery said they witnessed or participated in the improper changing of hundreds of grades. Nearly 30 current and former employees were interviewed. The majority worked at Lee.

Birmingham Schools to Consider Layoffs, Demotions

Jul 16, 2012

Birmingham's school board is set to consider proposals by a state intervention team to lay off or demote about 200 people and delay the start of school by three days.

The items are on the agenda for the board's Tuesday meeting.

The layoffs have been considered in the past, but the board rejected them June 26, leading to the Alabama Department of Education taking over the city school district the following day.